In 1947, Sir Charles Redvers Westlake, an English engineer, reported to the Colonial Government of Uganda recommending the construction of a hydroelectric dam at Owen Falls near the city of Jinja. This led to the establishment of the Uganda Electricity Board (UEB), with Westlake as its first chairman. The consultant engineers on the project was Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners. The dam was completed in 1954, submerging Ripon Falls. It supplies electricity to Uganda and parts of neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania. Maintenance and availability of the station declined seriously during the government of Idi Amin.
Before the construction of the dam, water levels on Lake Victoria were moderated by a natural rock dam on the north side of the lake. Rising lake waters would spill over the natural dam into the White Nile, which flows through Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea. When water levels dropped too low, flow into the river ceased. When the current dam was built, a treaty between Uganda and Egypt ensured that the natural flow of the Nile would not be altered by the dam.